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GE Labelling Delays Concern Safe-Food Campaigner

26th January 2000

GE Labelling Delays Concern Safe-Food Campaigner

Green MP Sue Kedgley is alarmed at the prospect of further delays before a decision on mandatory labelling for genetically engineered food is made in New Zealand.

The mandatory labelling decision was expected to be finalised in March 2000, but Health Minister Annette King and health officials informed a select committee today that the Australian government had raised "broad concerns" which could delay the process.

The minister could not elaborate on what those concerns were.

Ministry of health officials also indicated that a report on the compliance costs of mandatory labelling may not be ready in time and could also delay the labelling decision.

"Consumers have been waiting for more than two years to find out whether the dinner they put on the table tonight contains genetically engineered food," said Ms Kedgley. "Any further delay in setting up a labelling regime would be intolerable."

Ms Kedgley said there are at least 18 genetically engineered ingredients in the New Zealand food supply.

"None of these 18 ingredients have been assessed by the Australian New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) for potential risk to the people that are eating them," said Ms Kedgley.

"Moreover, other genetically engineered ingredients could have been slipped illegally into the country without ANZFA approval, since there is no monitoring or enforcement system in place to ensure that illegal genetically engineered ingredients are kept out of our food supply."

"Given this chaotic situation, a comprehensive labelling and monitoring regime is needed urgently. It is not only an issue of the consumers' right to know and make their own choices, it is a matter of public health and safety."

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